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9/11 COVERAGE: Portraits of a stunned, grieving nation

Friday, September 9, 2011 | 12:11 p.m. CDT; updated 7:03 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 9, 2011
A test of the Tribute in Light rises above lower Manhattan on Tuesday. The memorial, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society, will light the sky in New York on Sunday evening, in honor of those who died 10 years ago in the terror attacks on the United States.

Americans and people around the world were stunned and grieved in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Here are links to some of the best journalism — in stark words and often horrific imagery — from the day of the attacks and in the months and years after 9/11.

The Eye of the Storm: One Journey Through Desperation and Chaos

John Bussey, the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner for breaking news reporting, wrote a first-hand account of his experience near ground zero as the planes smashed into the twin towers. The sight of those leaping from the upper levels of the towers remains forever emblazoned in his memory. From the ninth floor of the Wall Street Journal building, Bussey took cover and watched the events unfold. When the smoke, debris and dust became too much to bear, he headed out into the street and followed a fireman who led him to safety as pieces of the towers collapsing fell around them.

Portraits of Grief

The New York Times took on the extraordinary task of creating detailed multimedia portraits of the victims of Sept. 11 through the lens of personal interviews with family, friends and co-workers. This year, the newspaper’s staff created a retrospective and documented how the lives of some of those who lost a loved one had been affected since that fateful day. The project includes a detailed alphabetical list of the victims with short feature stories about their lives. The interactive portions of the project create an easy-to-access database that displays great depth of information.

Fighting the Forces of Invisibility

Salman Rushdie, British novelist and essayist, wrote this commentary for The Washington Post just weeks after the attacks. In it, Rushdie called for restraint and respectful patriotism at a time when overreaction was prevalent. His writing promoted careful vigilance and a concerted effort not to demonize an entire people for the actions of vigilante terrorists. Rushdie, known for his controversial writing, such as "The Satanic Verses," provided a wealth of comfort and hospitality to an issue that provides the most hyperbolic of criticism. Above all, the column is reassuring of hope and prosperity for the future.

Newspaper and website front pages

Even in a time when the Internet and television reign as sources of news, the newspaper still serves an important purpose as a tangible piece of recorded history. It's something people tuck away to pull out years later and remember, to show their children and talk about the past. After the 9/11 attacks, newspapers across the country faced the challenging task of using text and photos to capture, for posterity, the events and emotions of that day. The Newseum has compiled a gallery of 109 newspaper front pages from Sept. 12, 2001. The headlines vary — from The New York Times' "U.S. Attacked" to The San Francisco Examiner's "Bastards!" Many read simply, "Terror." Each newspaper chose to approach the event in a different way, but each page is just as powerful as the next.

On Sept. 11, other news was pushed to the side as coverage turned to the attacks. The New York Times preserved its website home page for the day. It shows articles written from every angle — local, national and international — and also shows a collection of videos, slideshows and graphics. A list of emergency resources for New Yorkers remains on the side of the page, informing people about blood donation centers, schools, sports events cancellations and more.

The 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks have been filled with an array of world-changing events. This gallery of front pages from 2001 to 2011, compiled by the Poynter Institute, captures many of the biggest events from that period. Covering events ranging from the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the war in Iraq and the death of Osama bin Laden, it pieces together the many dramatic events that have followed in the wake of Sept. 11.

The Falling Man

Every so often, writing has the power to elevate the quiet activity of reading to a completely visceral experience. Tom Junod knows this, and he knows that it doesn't just take an erudite understanding of language to make it happen, that some things as subtle as word choice, punctuation and sentence structure can grab readers and catapult them into one of the darkest days in U.S. history. He starts with the story of an iconic image, that one we all know from 9/11: a man, unidentified, upside down, falling like an arrow from the World Trade Center towers, falling in a last-ditch effort to escape an inescapable terror. Then Junod begins a journey too good for fiction — the story of a journalist who, in searching for the identity of one man, discovers instead the identity of a nation in grief.

Beyond Belief

No movie could prepare the world for the images that flashed from nearly every one of the nation's TV screens. We saw the towers collapse, and it was broadcast live across the globe. On the day after the attacks, The Guardian's Ian McEwan wrote how those images weren’t the true horror. What still gives us chills are what we thought while we watched. The only way we could see inside the towers and those doomed flights was if we filled them ourselves. That's the reason why, McEwan wrote, that Sept. 11 seemed so real, even for those watching thousands of miles away.

Time magazine photo galleries

The firefighter walks with his head down and a hose slung over his shoulder. Twisted beams and choking smoke surround him, yet he’s alone. That image, of someone stepping across hell, captures the enormity and helplessness of the moment. It's one of many pictures Time magazine put together in several online galleries. One includes the magazine’s coverage of the day. Another chronicles the night’s search-and-rescue efforts. The final gallery compiles visceral images from the nation’s darkest day.

America's Day of Terror

A great ball of fire erupts from the side of the World Trade Center’s second tower.  A group of terrified people flees from the gargantuan cloud of dust and debris generated by the tower’s fall. These and many other images captured the terror of that day and will be forever imprinted on the minds of those who saw them. This photo gallery of images from The Guardian captures some of the most dramatic and powerful photos taken that day.

Reduced to Rubble

A diagram of the World Trade Center site and photos on The Washington Post website showed the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the Twin Towers and the nearby 47-story Building 7.

Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive

Viewers in the U.S. and around the world followed the day through the lenses of television newscasts. A playlist of of 20 news clips compiled by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, includes reports from U.S. and international broadcasters. In the first clip, which was aired just before the attacks on the World Trade Center, visitors to Manhattan smile and wave on a sunny New York morning outside the set of NBC's "Today" show. The clips conclude with BBC World's 140-second summary of 9/11's tragic events.

Missourian staff writers Amy Backes, Josh Barone, Michael Davis, Will Guldin, Margaux Henquinet, Danny Ramey and Bi Yoo contributed to this report.


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